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the consumer. He is at the mercy of those fluctuations, to counteract which, the manufacturer can provide by the limitation of the supply to the demand. It has been said, and said justly, that low prices tend to relieve themselves. In such a state of things the manufacturer looks for his profit in a more extended consumption, and so would the agriculturist also, did not the operations of the Exchequer interpose. He would find his compensation for a fall of price in a more extensive sale, did not the tax-gatherer interfere between the natural relation of cause and effect. By such interference the agriculturist is shut out from that natural remedy which is open to every other branch in any depression of the prices. When the tax is so great as to form a great proportion of the price, the consumer is not affected in the same degree as the grower.
Motion on National Distress, February 11, 1822.
Measures not Men.
I beg here to state that, as a general principle, my intention is to support measures which meet with my approbation, and to oppose those of a contrary tendency; let the one or the other come from whom they may.
Let good measures be proposed,-careless shall I be from whom they emanate; even should the proposer be of opposite principles to myself, I will support them. It is necessary, however, that I should qualify the doctrine of its being not men but measures that I am determined to support. Such doctrine in a monarhcy is unintelligible and irrational. In a republic like America, where all things are canvassed, sometimes with open and sometimes with closed doors, and where I have my vote on whatever is proposed, -where a treaty cannot be concluded without my knowledge, -where I cannot be bound by a treaty I never heard of to make war twenty or thirty years hence, or to send troops to Belgium or Portugal half a century afterwards,—such a doctrine may be tolerated and no harm ensue; but in a monarchy it is the duty of Parliament to look at the men as well as the measures; because a set of men might make a treaty which would render war inevitable at some distant day, unless the honor and safety of the country were sacrificed. I say, therefore, as long as a set of men can act secretly, that we are imperatively called upon to look at them and their character, as well as at the measures they may propound.
Speech in the House of Commons, Nov. 2, 1830.
Commerce and War. We may always conclude that a nation is in a comparatively low state of commercial advancement, which finds it cheaper and easier to fight, than to purchase; and prefers gaining in the field, to gaining in the market. When trade, and the arts of civilized life have been carried to a certain length, war is the greatest calamity that can befall a community. Any state in modern Europe would be so completely ruined by the contests which Athens and Carthage easily supported, that it would be a matter of total indifference whether the war was a series of victories, or of disasters.
Colonial Policy, (1803) p. 12.
Joint-Stock Speculations unprofitable. Joint-Stock companies are, of all trading schemes, the most unprofitable; they are quite unfit for the management of any commerce that requires active exertion, minute attention to trifling savings and small profits, and full knowledge of a complicated detail. Accordingly, in all speculations of distant commerce, they have uniformly failed, unless when confined to small numbers, and a narrow capital. The shares of their stock generally sell below par, unless when some other purpose than profit is the object of the purchaser. With all the advantages of a vast capital, they are almost always, sooner or later, defeated, or driven back from the market, by the ingenuity, industry, superior knowledge, and more rigid economy of private traders. A monopoly alone can save them from ruin; and the necessities of modern
governments, or their connection with the proprietors, or their false views of the simplest subjects in commercial philosophy, have generally seconded those selfish and hurtful designs.
THE VALLEY OF THE MISSISSIPPI.
Extracts from the Annual Report, by the New Orleans Price Current, upon the
Trade of New Orleans for the year ending September 1, 1848.
It will be remembered by all that we entered upon the season just closed with unusually flattering prospects for ample crops, and remunerating prices, and we felt pleasure in offering our congratulations to that effect in our last Annual Report. These pleasing anticipations, however, were fated to meet with most signal disappointment, so far as regards prices, and instead of the prosperity that appeared in prospective, the past year has proved pre-eminent for commercial disaster throughout the world. The first check to our prosperous progress was manifested in the severe money crisis in Great Britain, the immediate cause of which, it will be recollected, was the heavy drain of specie consequent upon excessive imports of Breadstuffs, which had been stimulated by famine prices. It was early in October that the financial difficulties of England began to assume an alarming aspect, and so formidable and irresistible did they prove that in a few weeks the commercial credit of Great Britain, which had stood on so lofty a pinnacle, was shaken to its foundation.
Scarcely had trade begun to recover somewhat from the blighting effects of most extended commercial disaster, when the world was startled with the intelligence of a Revolution in France, and the establishment of a Republic. Credit and commerce were at once prostrated in that country, and the example of the people of France having rapidly spread to other nations, several of the most potent monarchs of Europe
were compelled to abandon their thrones, or purchase immunity by liberal concessions of power and privilege. Nothing, however, has yet been settled and determined. Wars are raging-counter revolutions have taken place, and France has recently emerged from one of the most terrific and bloody that has ever been recorded in the annals of the world. This unsettled and uncertain state of political affairs in Europe continues to exercise a depressing influence upon trade generally, and its duration is a problem not of easy solution ; but it is devontly to be hoped that this uprising of the people of the old world will eventuate in an amelioration of their political and social condition, and in a more liberal interchange of commerce, literature and the arts.
The rapid extension of Ocean Steam Navigation, both in Europe and in this country, is another prominent feature of interest, as connected with commercial and social intercourse between the new and the old world, and distant parts of the American continent. Already are we in regular weekly communication with Great Britain and the Continent of Europe, and a feet of steamers is in course of construction, under contract with the United States' Government, which are intended to convey the mails, &c., between New York and Europe, and also between New York and Charleston, Savannah, Havana, New Orleans and Chagres, and along the Pacific coast, to connect with the Atlantic by a land communication across the Isthmus of Panama. These steamers are to be of the first class, and so constructed as to be readily convertible into vessels of war, upon any emergency. Private enterprise is also on the alert, and besides a regular line from New York to Charleston, a pioneer steamer, of elegant proportions and gallant qualities,—to be followed, we trust, by others of equal attractions—has opened a rapid communication between our own city and the great Northern emporium under auspices of the most encouraging character.
Cotton. Seldom, if ever within the period of its history as the leading commercial interest of our country, has the Cotton trade been subjected to so trying an ordeal as that through which it has passed during the season just closed.
The year may be said to have opened with rather flattering prospects for good crops—at least in this section of the country—and for remunerating prices. The food crops of Europe—the failure of which the previous year had been productive of such wide-spread distress among the population of the old world, and which, from the great enhancement of the cost of sustenance, had exercised a depressing influence upon the Cotton trade--gave promise of a fair average yield, and thus was presented the prospect of a gradual removal of what was then the most formidable obstacle in the way of a more extended consumption of our great staple. At the same time the stocks of Europe were unusually low, that of Great Britain being only 511,000 bales, against 950,850 bales in 1846 and 1,200,000 in 1845.
The early prices obtained in this market were highly satisfactory, and the trade gave fair promise, until the latter part of October, when the commercial revolution which prostrated credit in Great Britain, and which subsequently spread to nearly all parts of the Continent of Europe, and to the Indies, put a sudden check to our prosperous course, and produced a more rapid depreciation of prices than we remember ever to have witnessed, in an experience of many years as an observer of the varying phases of this most important and most sensitive of our commercial interests. After recovering materially from the shock produced by the state of things just enumerated a still more severe blow was given by the startling intelligence of a revolution in France, and the overthrow of the monarchy. This movement of the people in favor of popular rights rapidly spread to other countries of Europe, and in the tumultuous state of political affairs commercial credit was completely overthrown, and trade in a measure annihilated. In this general prostration of credit and commerce probably no interest, connecting our own country with Europe, was more severely affected than the Cotton trade, and prices here were at times depressed to within a fraction of the lowest point reached in 1813, while at Liverpool sales were made at lower rates than were ever before known for American Cotton. This depression, loo, both in its causes and effects, presents a marked contrast to that of 1843; for in the latter instance it was attributable solely to an excessive accumulation of the raw material, which gave the manufacturers, particularly those of Great Britain, wholly the advantage, and enabled them to prosecute an active trade, at immense profits; while during the past year the stocks in Great Britain, at least for the greater portion of the period, have been unusually low; but so great have been the derangements of trade that the manufacturers could not work with profit, even upon a lower cost of the raw material than was ever before
a known; and many mills were stopped, while most others were compelled to resort to short-time working. Speculation has been comparatively unknown, as will readily be seen by the fact that during the first six months of the present year the quantity taken by speculators at Liverpool was only 27,800 bales, against 228,400 bales for the same period in 1847. Having thus given a rapid summary of what we conceive to have been the prominent causes of the extraordinary depression of the past season, we proceed to a brief review of the course of our own market.
The first arrival of the new crop was on the 9th August; being two days later than the first receipt of the previous year. The quantity was only two bales, and these, as usual with the first receipts, were sold at fancy prices. The whole quantity of the new crop received up to 1st Sept., was 1089 bales, against 140 bales in 1846, 6846 in 1845, and 5720 in 1844, and the sales up to the same date embraced some 350 bales, at 114 a 12 cents per lb. the quality ranging from Middling Fair to Good Fair. Prices gave way somewhat, as the receipts increased, and on the 1st October the range was 10 a 11 cents for Middling to Fair, though this yielding of the rates was more attributable to the difficulty of effecting exchange negotiations than to any other cause, as the demand had nearly kept pace with the arrivals. No further material change took place until about the middle of October, when advices of a severe pressure in the English money market gave a downward inclination to prices, which was rapidly accelerated by each succeeding
steamer's accounts, bringing intelligence of immense commercial failures